Donut Lovers Delight at Montreal’s Trou de Beigne
Trou de Beigne
- OWNERGiuliano Ciccocioppo
- Favorite DonutS’mores
- HOBBIES BESIDES DONUT MAKINGPlaying and Watching Soccer
Montreal may be spoiled with its handmade sesame seed bagels and buttery, flaky croissants, but a good donut is a bit harder to find. But now donut lovers can get their fix at Trou de Beigne, a donut shop that specializes in artful “American-style” donuts made from high-quality ingredients with creative flavor combinations.
Owner Giuliano Ciccocioppo started Trou de Beigne as a delivery-only wholesale operation three years ago, working out of his parent’s kitchen and dropping off donuts at local cafes and events. Now the company has its own brick-and-mortar home where Montrealers make the trip for fresh-baked gourmet donuts made on site.
Ciccocioppo’s donut story began with a craving for a good chocolate donut. Growing up in Montreal, his favorite donut came from the American chain Dunkin’ Donuts: a simple, light and fluffy chocolate donut—and not just chocolate frosted, but with a chocolate dough. But as Tim Hortons expanded its reign throughout the north, and the Dunkins started disappearing, so did the beloved chocolate donut.
“I never studied pastry, I just wanted better donuts and at the time I had this idea there weren’t other options for that,” says Ciccocioppo. “And also I wanted something specific: a good chocolate donut.”
After leaving his job in market research, It took five months of focused work in the kitchen before he sold Trou de Beigne’s first donuts. The test batch process required tinkering and altering different variables until he reached something that he achieved his expectations for his donut ideal: airy and fluffy, aesthetically pleasing and not chockful of corn syrup or artificial ingredients.
A guiding question, he says, was, “Within reason, how can we make this donut still taste as good as, if not better than everything else, while cutting down on the things that are unnecessary?”
He also invests in quality ingredients, even if they are often far from the cheapest option. All of the donuts are made with organic coconut oil, rather than butter or shortening. Chocolate donuts are made with Lindt chocolate, Ciccocioppo’s favorite chocolate brand. Exceptions are made, however, for the Nutella and banana donut (made with the chocolate hazelnut spread, of course) and the s’mores, which uses Hershey’s, per tradition.
“There are lesser options, but the little added something, it makes a slight difference to those who are playing attention,” says Ciccocioppo.
The flavors, which he developed after his own tastes, span sweet to salty to fruity, and often include traditional combinations and more creative flavor mash-ups. There’s a classic sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg coated donut, green tea matcha topped with their take on crispy rice, blueberry glazed, s’mores, cookie dough, maple bacon, made with a maple frosting and oven-baked maple-glazed bacon pieces, Nutella banana, and “blizzard,” a chocolate donut with crumbled oreo and Lindt white chocolate. All are inherently Instagrammable and artfully constructed; the s’mores donut features toasted marshmallows atop a chocolate donut with graham cracker crumbs, and the green tea and blueberry donuts offer a pop of color.
The latest flavor, speculoos, is indicative of Ciccocioppo’s creative approach. Inspiration struck from the Belgian cookie speculoos, a spiced shortbread, that’s gained popularity as a spread for toast and waffles. Rather than top a frosted donut with a chunk of waffle, he tried to think of a more subtle option.
“I’m not a fan of just throwing stuff on top of the donuts. I think that there’s a more artful way to do it, and that’s what I’m trying to do, so I said, well what can we use instead?” The answer was speculoos frosting topped with a wedge of the Italian waffle cookie, pizzelle.
All donuts are available for pick up in Trou de Beigne’s shop, which opened in January on a bustling street in Montreal’s Little Italy neighborhood. Ciccocioppo imagined it primarily as a pick-up spot—similar to Montreal’s Fairmount or Saint-Viateur Bagels, where customers can buy fresh bagels to go.
At Trou de Beigne, there are a few counter seats by the window, and two benches built into the wall, but it’s primarily simplistic, clean and modern. The space was designed with Mila Broomberg, who also helped to design the coffee shop MELK’s café in downtown Montreal. Trou de Beigne’s striking owl logo, which has been in use since the delivery-only days, was created by artist Joan Tarrago and also helps to serve as inspiration for the shop. The shop is defined by the floor-to-ceiling painting of the logo that spans the left wall, including two built-in booths as its eyes. Hip-hop, another passion of Ciccocioppo’s often plays through the speakers, and there’s a small stand of comic books available for perusing.
Given the vibe he’s worked to create in this space, Ciccocioppo has no plans to expand to a second location, he says.
“I’m sure some people get into it with the idea of, well, if things go well we’re going to franchise. I don’t want to do that. I find you lose a certain charm, mystique, whatever the word is, and it’s more fun when there’s only one spot and that’s the spot you have to go to if you want to enjoy the full experience,” he says.
He does have other developments in the work, including a new vegan donut.
“We’re just gonna come up with different formats,” says Ciccocioppo. “The gluten-free and vegan aspect of things, I’m no nutritionist or expert, but the vegan seems to be growing and seems to be around to stay.”
Ciccocioppo says he doesn’t closely follow the donut industry or competitors in Montreal, but he’s not concerned with any copycats in the future.
“I’m just going to keep on coming up with new things,” he says. “That’s the fun part.”